A considerable search and salvage operation will be underway off southwest Australia as authorities demand action following a container ship accident
Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has demanded the owner of container ship APL England searches and recovers all of the containers lost during rough weather in May.
Only 15 of around 50 containers lost overboard during the incident off New South Wales have been recovered so far. AMSA has demanded the rest are found and salvaged to prevent environmental damage and risk to fishing vessels.
It has identified a priority search area of about 1,000 km2 stretching between the Illawarra and Sydney’s southern suburbs.
Drift modelling and analysis of container sightings following the incident indicates the missing containers could be in this area at water depths of up to 200 m.
AMSA general manager response Mark Morrow said 35 containers are still missing from APL England’s load and any containers within the search area pose the most immediate environmental threat and may present a safety hazard for commercial fishing.
“The owner’s and operator’s responsibility to clean-up the mess left behind by their ship does not end at the water’s edge,” Mr Morrow said. “We have only just finished cleaning up more than 60 containers and their contents from the seafloor off Newcastle (Australia) after Yang Ming’s ship YM Efficiency lost containers back in June 2018,” he continued. Containers and associated debris from this accident scattered for many kilometres along Australia’s east coast in 2018.
“That is not a pollution legacy that any respectable shipowner or operator would want to leave behind in their wake.”
AMSA expects APL England’s owner and operator to respond to its direct order with a detailed search plan in the coming days. “Failure to comply with this direction constitutes an offence under Australian law,” Mr Morrow said.
Singapore-flagged APL England was detained by AMSA in the Port of Brisbane after inspectors found heavily corroded securing points for containers on deck and inadequate cargo lashing arrangements.
The search for the remaining containers will require at least one survey ship with sonar and recovery and could require a heavy lift vessel and tug assistance.
Other ships required salvage over the past week. In the Volga-Caspian Sea Canal, in Russia, a cargo ship needs removal after grounding and clogging up this key shipping route into the enclosed sea.
General cargo ship Golden Rose grounded on 16 June blocking the canal, causing ship traffic delays for more than 25 vessels.
According to reports, a dredger and tugs have been mobilised to the site to help refloat Golden Rose. At least 28 ships are lined up, waiting for the canal to be reopened.
Golden Rose was en route with a cargo of grain from Astrakhan, Russia, to Amirabad, Iran.
There was more success in Norway where another cargo ship grounded and was refloated. A tug assisted in removing general cargo ship Amalie from the seafloor in Averøy, north of Kristiansund.
It ran aground while sailing from Floro to Hestvikholmene on 15 June. Amalie was refloated during high tide with tug assistance. It was then towed to a safe harbour for inspection.
In South America, a Panamax bulk carrier was towed to safety after reporting a rudder failure. Bulker Phoenix Ocean was en route from Zarate, Argentina, when it suffered a jammed rudder. It was towed to a bulk terminal in Montevideo, Uruguay, for repairs, according to Fleetmon.
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